As more people opt to watch TV on the internet, cable companies are starting to feel the pinch. With the rise of video streaming services like Netflix and Amazon — not to mention torrents — people are deciding they don’t need a cable subscription to watch their favorite shows.
The cable companies see the winds of change coming: consumers aren’t interested in being chained to a hefty fee for a lot of content they don’t watch. Comcast recently began enforcing a 300GB data cap in Georgia, and AT&T is offering $30 off gigabit internet for users to give them more information about their browsing habits.
It’s difficult to say whether these changes will push more customers away. But implementing data caps is isn’t a great way for cable providers to ingratiate themselves to consumers. Netflix is currently testing a standard definition option among a small numbers of users, for slightly cheaper than the next lowest priced option. The purpose is partially to bring in more users with slower connections, but is also a big step toward helping users skirt under data caps.
The trend of users cutting the cable isn’t just being impacted by subscription services like Netflix. The number of people torrenting Game Of Thrones surpassed the number of people watching it on television, for a second year. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes call the status “better than an Emmy.”
All this points toward a couple of things contributing to the decline of cable TV, things a data cap won’t stop. As people become less interested in ownership, they’re quite happy to pick and choose their level of access. With Netflix there’s more content available than anyone could watch in a year, and the lists keep updating. With cable subscribers are likely paying for a bunch of channels with very little worthwhile content.
In the end, consumers are voting with their dollars and the cable companies are losing out. The practical purpose they provide for many people now is the delivering high-speed internet, not television programming. There’s a reason that a cable tv program was the most pirated show of the year, and not a Netflix original program.
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